Rebecca Jones is one of those rare gems who genuinely loves her job. The Dublin-based respiratory therapist has worked at the Optim Medical Center-Tattnall in Reidsville since 2008. She drives 150 miles a day, five days a week in order to work there — proof positive of her dedication.
“At times, I dread the drive but Optim is such a great place to work that once I get here my mood is instantly better,” Jones, who now manages the respiratory therapy program, explained.
While Jones is accustomed to taking care of others, she’s also been one to put her own pain on the back burner. For years she suffered from sciatica pain, opting to treat it with oral steroids and continue her long drives to work. But one day the pain something she could no longer ignore.
“For years, my sciatica pain would come and go and I put it off to driving so much. One day the pain was the worst it had ever been and my foot was starting to feel numb. When the new symptom appeared I started to worry a little more,” she commented. “Being in the medical field and knowing a little more than average, I knew the numbness meant something was wrong.”
As an employee within the Optim Health System network, Jones had connections to a number of neurosurgery and orthopedic surgeons. She reached out to Dr. John Sarzier in between surgeries at Optim Medical Center-Tattnall and explained her situation.
“He did a physical examination and immediately put a plan into action to find out what was going on, but first he wanted to get me out of pain. He sent me for an MRI and found that I had spinal stenosis and a herniated disc at L5-S1 of my spine,” exclaimed Jones.
True to form, Dr. Sarzier wanted to try less invasive methods to treat the pain. They started with steroid injections. That, Jones notes, only brought temporary relief.
“Dr. Sarzier and I sat down to talk about my options. He wanted to do everything he could to avoid surgery. He gave me the option of a spinal cord stimulator for the pain or a Coflex implant,” she said.
“It’s a simple titanium device that goes in the back of your spine between the two levels of stenosis and it gives flexible lumbar support without having to fuse the bones together.”
That was a much more attractive option for Jones, who was hesitant about fusing bones together.
Jones explained, “This implant sounded like the route I wanted to take because I didn’t want my bones to fuse together naturally or surgically so I chose the Coflex.”
Her surgery was scheduled at the Spine Center of Excellence at Optim Medical Center-Tattnall. Dr. Sarzier did a surgical decompression of the herniated disc and inserted the Coflex implant. When Jones woke up, she discovered that her back pain was gone.
“... and I could feel my foot again. It was funny because before surgery I had stubbed my big toe — jammed it pretty good and bruised the toe nail — but I felt no pain but after surgery my toe kept hurting and I couldn’t figure out why, then I remembered that I had stubbed my toe and my feeling was back so I knew my surgery was a success,” she said.
Though her procedure was typically outpatient, Jones asked to stay overnight, knowing that her fellow nurses and staff would take very good care of her.
“I didn’t know what kind of pain I would be in afterwards or how well I would be able to get around. I have complete faith and trust in the staff Optim Medical Center-Tattnall,” offered Jones. “They are like family — we take care of each other and we treat our patients like family so I knew I would get the best care anywhere around.”
“Optim Health System’s neurosurgical and orthopedic surgeons, as well as the interventional pain management specialists, are the best in the southeast for spine and joint care. And I am not saying that because I work here either,” she said with a laugh.
“The bottom line is, quality and safety matter and with Optim Medical Center-Tattnall’s focus on orthopedic and spine care, it means there is less chance for exposure to sick patients and patients get the one-on-one specialty care and the attention they need to heal and get on track to getting their lives back.”
That is certainly what Jones found and she only has praise for the nurses and support staff that cared for her. And, of course, that extends to her surgeon as well.
“Dr. Sarzier is a great guy, a great surgeon, has the best attitude and bed side manner. He took time in his busy surgery schedule to see me unexpectedly and he listened to my concerns and immediately took action to help me with my pain,” Jones commented.
“He did everything he could to keep from having surgery until it became absolutely necessary. I would recommend Dr. Sarzier 10 times over. He helped me get my life back. I love the outdoors. I fish and I deer hunt. I couldn’t sit in a boat for long periods of time and I couldn’t climb a deer stand because of my back pain and he was able to get me back to doing what I love to do.”